Minnesota: Civil Justice Reform Task Force Leads to Rule Changes

In November 2010, Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea signed an order establishing the Civil Justice Reform Task Force for the purpose of reviewing civil justice reform initiatives undertaken in other jurisdictions and recommending changes to facilitate efficient and cost-effective processing of civil cases. The Task Force submitted its Final Report to the Minnesota Supreme Court in December of 2011, with a number of rule and case management recommendations. The Task Force recommendations included the incorporation of a proportionality consideration for discovery, the adoption of the federal regime of automatic disclosures, the adoption of an expedited procedure for nondispositive motions, and an expedited litigation track pilot program and a complex case program. The task force also recommended a trial date certain and assignment of civil cases to a single judge. Following the report, the Minnesota Supreme Court directed the Task Force to prepare particular proposed rule changes, case management orders, and forms. In May of 2012, the Task Force submitted a Supplemental Report including the requested items.

The Minnesota Supreme Court issued final amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure and the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts in 2013, adopting many of the recommendations of the Minnesota Task Force, including incorporating proportionality into the scope of discovery, automatic disclosures, a discovery plan, an expedited process for non-dispositive motions, and a new Complex Case Program.

The Supreme Court also created an Expedited Civil Litigation Track Pilot, which provides for early involvement by the judge, limited discovery, curtailed continuances, and the setting of a trial date within four to six months. The goal of the project, which applies to cases involving contract disputes, consumer credit, personal injury, and some other types of civil cases, is to see whether this expedited process can reduce the duration and cost of civil suits. That pilot has been successful and has since been extended to additional courts in Minnesota.

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